Monday, 15 May 2017

Murderino Mondays: Folie à Deux - The 'Noah's Ark' of Murder.

Yes, that is an iPod Classic. Yes, I do still make cases for them. Yes, it is my baby.
Shared psychotic delusions almost sound like something out of a paranormal horror movie, but there have been several documented cases and are extremely interesting to learn about. The girls covered the Eriksson twins in episode 58 – a very well documented case of folie à deux – and a horribly confused mess of a case. I’m going to discuss folie à deux as a disorder, how it drove these women to acts of murder, and other high profile murder cases that have involved folie à deux.

I had far too much fun doing these pictures!
 The Eriksson twins were brought to worldwide notoriety after they seemingly tried to commit suicide on the M6 motorway and following release, Sabina killed Glenn Hollishead by stabbing him several times. Ursula travelled to Cork, Ireland from the US, to see her sister Sabina and her family. Upon meeting the girls got incredibly close and disappeared, and were next seen travelling to London from Liverpool where these events unfolded. The girls got off at a service station but weren’t allowed back on because they refused to let the driver search their bags that they were holding onto suspiciously – the driver fearing that they had something illegal on them, didn’t allow them back on the coach and left them on the side of the motorway (dick move, but understandable at the same time the safety of all the passengers was at risk) where they were picked up by traffic officers. Ursula ran out into the road first and hit by a truck, followed by Sabina who was hit by a car – according to their brother, the girls were running from a group of “lunatics” who wanted to gang rape them, and they would rather be run over so they chose to run. Whilst they were getting help, they were screaming about having their organs taken away from the officers and how they weren’t real – clear evidence of psychosis. Following an horrific lack of medical evaluation, Sabina was released from police custody and taken in by Glenn Hollishead, who Sabina had stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.

It's kinda like something out of a horror movie, right?
Sadly, there is not enough knowledge on either of the women to understand their background, but psychosis in general can happen for several reasons – it can be a result of environment or genetics, such is the case of paranoid schizophrenia (a diagnosis that the “primary” sufferer of folie à deux usually gets). Between the two sisters it has been said that Ursula was the primary sufferer, and Sabina the secondary. A case report in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry noted that secondary sufferers have a greater severity of psychosis, and in the case presented in the journal and the Eriksson twins, it fits a case of folie communique – initially sharing the primary’s delusional beliefs but autonomously developing fresh delusions not produced by the primary.

 Regarding the twins’ background, there has been no evidence of trauma or abuse or anything of the sort to indicate an environmental cause for the psychosis, and without genetic information I can’t comment on why this happened or how, but I can tell you that this is a case of folie à deux – a shared delusion between the two proven by the brother’s comments and their suspicious behaviour following their stop at the motorway services.

I've really creeped myself out making these.
There is a conspiracy theory going around that the girls’ behaviour can be explained as they were part of a government experiment similar to MK Ultra. The theory states that the girls need to commit suicide was like a “self-destruct” command which was drilled into them as children, during Scandinavian trials where they were specially bred and then put through traumatic living conditions. If this is the case then the traumatic living conditions could explain the developed psychosis, and the experiment theory could explain why the girls aren’t dead – they both suffered ridiculously, and the fact that Sabina is even alive and was even able to stand and run around after being hit with such violent force on a motorway (we’re talking HIGH SPEED) is unbelievable – which is why these theories have surfaced. But they are nothing more than theories. Right?

Another case report found that there is a relationship between abuse and neglect and psychotic symptoms, also the fact that psychotic symptoms are made apparent at high school age. Interestingly, this information can be illustrated by the Parker-Hulme murders another case thought to be due to folie à deux at one point.

Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey as Hulme and Parker in a screengrab Heavenly Creatures.
Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were two young schoolgirls (aged 16 and 15 respectively) who were best friends (believed to be lesbians) and couldn’t bear the fact that they were being separated so chose to kill Pauline’s mother as they believed her to be the main obstacle preventing them from being together. Pauline’s diary was used as evidence and pages can still be found online. The two were incredibly close, and personally I think the story was quite sad – initially it was very much a case of Romeo and Juliet – Homosexuality at the time was considered a mental illness and their parents were unhappy that the two were bonding in such a way so chose to separate them. It’s actually very sad; the movie Heavenly Creatures chose to focus on their friendship more than the murder as it was really a very wonderful and intense relationship they had, and I think the movie really did that justice. It’s of course, no justification for murder, but folie à deux does explain to a small extent what happened. It was dismissed as a defence for them however, so formally they have not been said to have actually been suffering from it, and in all honesty, I don’t think they did. In an interview with Juliet Hulme (now Anne Perry, a writer) – she and Parker had full grasp of their world and knewthe difference between fantasy and reality, but then again is her word reliable? In court, their behaviour was apparently seen as normal adolescent behaviour, but tell me – at the age of 15/16, if you had gotten exceptionally close to someone to the point where you created a world together and chose to murder your best friends parent because you were being separated, is that normal adolescent behaviour? Their reaction to the separation was anything but rational, and that’s why I reject the “standard adolescent behaviour” answer, but not completely convinced of folie a deux. The film however, depicts it as exactly that, and is a wonderful piece of art albeit inaccurate.

Lea & Christine Papin. Credit
Georgia and Karen also covered another case suspected of folie à deux, is the Papin sisters. They were 2 French maids who murdered their employer’s wife and daughter – they gouged their eyes out and killed them with blows to the head with knives and other kitchen tools. In this case, I assume Christine was the primary – she was the one who exhibited psychotic behaviours separate from her sister where she tried to gouge her own eyes out, and stated that this episode had happened prior to the murder, which is what kicked it off (and ended up with the girls doing it to their victims). During the trial, medical testimony stated that Christine was of average intelligence whereas Lea was of lower intelligence – something the Nunes report commented on was that the secondary sufferer is of lower intelligence than the primary, which is what happened in this case, as the secondary is easier to manipulate and due to their lack of self-esteem and isolation from the world, which is made apparent as the girls kept to themselves. The same report also comments on how abuse and early life stress has an effect on the severity of psychosis, an element that played into the Papin sisters lives – their father had sexually abused their older sister Emilia and so the girls were placed into the care of their uncle instead. This childhood stress possibly lead to a development of extreme sensitivity to stress which resulted in Christine’s psychosis – who I assume at the time was old enough to understand what was going on and therefore realise the impact it had on her and her sister which eventually lead to her psychotic episodes later on in life, but also her dependency on her sister. The sexual element between the two is a recurrent theme in these cases and is most likely due to the isolation and lack of outside social contact they all have with the world, which leads to high dependency upon each other which in some cases has led to something sexual.

Doing the photos for this post was a really strange experience. 10/10 would do it again.
So, Folie à Deux; A strange and rare disorder and one that has manifested in some of the strangest high profile cases there is. The idea of shared psychosis is a strange one, is it a paranormal/supernatural thing? Or is it a case of one person with higher intelligence using their abilities to manipulate the secondary into a case of induced psychosis? 

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